[If you’ve ever been hesitant or nervous to get your hearing tested, there’s no need to worry! Hearing tests are quick and painless, and they can get you on the right track to regaining healthy hearing. To quell your worries, it often helps to know what to expect.
Before the Test
Your audiologist will start by asking a few questions. They’ll ask about your work, including jobs you’ve had in the past, and then discuss your hobbies, interests and general leisure time. After that, they’ll review your medical history, and especially any problems with your hearing – past or present. This first step is much more than a simple ‘fact finding’ exercise. It’s a chance to get to know your habits and your lifestyle, which helps form a treatment plan if a hearing loss is detected.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing tests are designed not only to detect the presence of hearing loss, but also to determine where in this process a hearing problem originates. Impaired sound transmission through the outer and middle ear is known as conductive hearing loss; dysfunction of the cochlea, acoustic nerve, or higher nerve pathways is termed sensorineural hearing loss; both conditions together are known as mixed hearing loss. Hearing tests also provide your audiologist with information on the degree and configuration of a hearing loss.
During the Test
Your audiologist will start with a physical examination of your ears. We will examine inside the ear canal with the help of an otoscope. Then we’ll check the eardrums and outer ears for signs of damage or infection or wax buildup.
Different Tests Used to Detect Hearing Loss
A thorough hearing evaluation usually involves several of the following tests:
Pure Tone Audiometry Test
Pure tone audiometry measures the ability to hear tones at different pitches and volumes. You will enter a soundproof room and put on earphones. A series of tones is played into one ear. You are instructed to give a signal, such as raising a finger or pressing a button, to indicate that you heard the sound. The volume of the tones is lowered progressively until you can no longer hear them, and will then be intensified and lowered several more times. This process is then repeated in the other ear.
Next, you will remove the earphones and put on a special headband with a small plastic piece that sits behind your ear and conducts sound vibrations through the bone. The series of tones is repeated, and you are again asked to signal when you hear them. The test takes about 20 minutes.
Speech and Word Recognition Test
The speech recognition test assesses your ability to hear conversational speech. The word recognition test evaluates how well you understand single-syllable words. For speech recognition, you will hear a series of common, two-syllable words in one ear. You will be asked to repeat every word as you hear it. The volume of the words is lowered progressively until you can no longer hear them, and will then be intensified and lowered several more times. This procedure is repeated in the other ear.
Word recognition testing follows a similar procedure, but uses one-syllable words. In some cases, the words will be presented first in quiet and then in the presence of background noise. Each of these tests takes about 10 minutes.
Acoustic Immittance Test
Acoustic immittance tests measure the flow of sound energy into the ear and the resistances to that flow and are valuable for evaluating the eardrum and middle ear for possible conductive hearing loss. A special probe is inserted into one ear so that no air can pass in or out of the ear; it feels like an earplug and may cause only minor discomfort. These tests take about 2 to 3 minutes each.
Reviewing Your Results
After the test, your audiologist will discuss your results straight away. If a hearing loss is detected, we’ll explain the causes and consequences, so you’ll know how it could affect you in different situations. We’ll also let you know if your type of condition can be improved by wearing hearing aids. We’ll go through the full range of choices – each type of aid has its virtues, so it is important to find the options that work best for your hearing needs. We’ll also consider your work and hobbies to help you make the right choice and get back to a full life of healthy hearing.
Visit Us at Ear-Tronics
Have you considered getting a hearing test? At Ear-Tronics, our friendly staff will take you through the steps and support you through the process. We provide comprehensive hearing tests and are committed to helping you find the best solution for your hearing needs. Contact us today to schedule a hearing test!